Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates after defeating Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic after the quarterfinal match of the Pan Pacific Open women's tennis tournament in Tokyo Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Osaka beats Strycova to reach semifinals at Pan Pacific Open

September 21, 2018 - 7:40 am

TOKYO (AP) — Naomi Osaka raised her game when she needed to, and it landed her a spot in the semifinals of the Pan Pacific Open.

The U.S. Open champion, who upset Serena Williams in the final in New York at the beginning of the month, won her ninth straight match Friday, beating Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-4.

"This was my third time playing her, and each time it was very close, so I knew she was very good," said the third-seeded Osaka, the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Osaka will next face Camila Giorgi, who advanced after Victoria Azarenka retired from their match in the first set. Giorgi was leading 5-3 when the match ended.

The 20-year-old Osaka converted all three of her break points and won 80 percent of points on her first serve.

She broke the eighth-seeded Strycova to take a 3-1 lead in the first set but was soon broken back. Leading 4-3, that's when Osaka took control. She immediately earned two break points, and Strycova double-faulted on the first one to put Osaka ahead 5-3.

In the second set, double-faults again cost Strycova, who was broken again at 2-2.

Also, fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova defeated Alison Riske 6-1, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4). She will next play Donna Vekic, who beat second-seeded Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-4.

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